Ohio Still Relies on Federal Loans to Pay Unemployed

Monday, 06 Aug 2012 11:28 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Despite an improving economy, Ohio is still relying on the federal government to keep payments coming to the state’s unemployed since its own benefit program went broke three years ago.
 
The federal trust fund loans are running up a huge debt for the state — $1.8 billion at the moment — that includes an interest payment of $65 million due next month, according to a report Monday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
 
The only good news for the state’s unemployment program is that Ohio’s economy has been improving and that fewer jobless claims are being filed, which is expected to lower the state’s reliance on federal dollars to make benefit payments. Last year, for example, the state owed the trust fund $2.6 billion.
 
By comparison, the unemployment benefit payment debts incurred from the trust fund by Michigan and Texas are higher — at $3 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
 
Despite the federal debt and improving state economy, Ohio officials and lawmakers have done nothing about replenishing the state’s own Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.
 
Lawmakers recognize the need to make it solvent once again, the Plain Dealer reports, but are concerned because it could mean imposing higher taxes on businesses and employees who pay into the fund to help maintain it.
 
The Ohio Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council, comprised of lawmakers, business, and labor leaders, did make recommendations at one point. But they went nowhere.

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